Business Development 101
Business development is an integral component of any company’s success. It entails creating and implementing strategies to achieve sustainable, long term growth and profitability while being focused on innovation and the ability to adapt quickly to changing conditions.
Exploring potential markets, products and services to identify new opportunities is key. This involves analyzing market trends and understanding customer needs while also leveraging resources.
A well thought out business development strategy can lead to increased revenue, expanded reach and strong partnerships with both suppliers and customers/clients.
In this article we discuss seven fundamental
1. Create your strategic plan
A well designed strategic plan is essential for long term success. It should:
- Serve as the roadmap for achieving the specific goals that deliver the Mission;
- Define the key objectives to be met in reaching those goals;
- Identify the tactics that will be used;
- Set out responsibilities, timelines and budgets;
- Introduce the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) by which progress will be measured .
By following this guideline you can maintain focus on what matters most – delivering the Mission.
2. You are your brand
If you don’t deliberately and actively differentiate yourself from your rivals, you run the risk of becoming lost in the noise and crowds of the marketplace. A simple, effective way to do this is to create a recognizable brand, i.e. create a unique identity that sets you apart from the competition.
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room” (Jeff Bezos). While logos, colors and typography are important, they’re not your brand. Investing the time and effort to develop a position statement that clearly expresses who you are and what makes you different is the first step. This then informs your messaging, your focus, who you serve and how you want them to describe you.
3. Use technology throughout your business
Technology has transformed the way companies operate by introducing innovative tools and platforms for design, production, communication, collaboration, and automation.
Leverage available technology to add value by improving efficiency and enhancing customer experiences e.g. always-online cloud computing, mobile apps, real-time chatbots, etc. Investing in technology infrastructure and/or equipment is also crucial as this supports future development.
This will help you to streamline operations and increase productivity as well as reaching new audiences more efficiently and effectively than before.
4. Strengthening Partnerships and Collaborations
Collaborating with other businesses is crucial for growth and expansion because it enables you to access new markets, extend your reach and share knowledge and expertise. Seek out partners with similar values whose strengths complement yours. Build strong relationships with open communications. Resolve conflicts constructively and focus on achieving mutual benefits.
5. Attract and retain customers
Healthy sales and satisfied customers are essential for growth and success. Unfortunately the world has no shortage of businesses with falling sales and/or whose principal growth area seems to be in creating unhappy customers.
Budget airlines, utility and telecommunications companies are notoriously bad at customer service and many appear to focus more effort on acquiring new customers than on keeping the ones they have.
But the most expensive customer you can have is a new one – it’s common to lose money on them and to depend on them staying long enough to recoup your costs from future sales.
By contrast, your existing customers do not cost anything to acquire. Surely it makes sense to invest in making/keeping them happy?
Other low-cost/high-return sources of additional sales are inactive/dormant/former customers and new customers referred by existing customers. Properly managed, attention paid to these can yield very significant returns.
Prioritizing and delivering exceptional customer service that meets or exceeds customer expectations builds trust. So does being transparent and acting with integrity.
Leverage data analytics to gain insights into customers’ behavior, preferences and pain points. Use these to tailor your offerings and improving your customers’ experience. This will help to foster loyalty among customers who will then spread positive word of mouth leading to repeat sales over time. Ultimately, putting customers first is key in driving sustainable growth.
6. Effective Financial Management
Warren Buffet’s Rule No. 1 is “Never lose money.” and Rule No. 2 is “Never forget Rule No. 1.”
Proper financial management demands that you have adequate resources to fund expansion initiatives while maintaining financial stability. To do this, you need to:
- Develop sound financial plans, balancing short term and long term priorities;
- Allocate resources prudently;
- Manage risks proactively;
- Monitor cash flow closely;
- Optimize tax structures efficiently; and
- Control expenses diligently.
Without this discipline your risks of over-stretching and/or losing money are significantly higher. Effectively managing your finances will help minimize these risks wand support your growth.
7. Maintain/improve Quality
Scaling up operations can be a daunting task as you strive to maintain quality. Achieving this will require robust quality control, appropriate standard operating procedures (SOPs) and effective staff training to ensure consistency across the organization.
Giving your employees ownership of quality assurance will help introduce feedback-driven, continuous improvement processes that should deliver better outcomes.
Achieving and exploiting competitive advantage for sustained growth and profitability requires a combination of:
- strategic planning;
- a strong brand;
- using technology effectively;
- building effective partnerships;
- customer centric practice;
- sound financial management; and
- a clear focus on quality.
Committing to these is crucial to expand and scale your operations without exposing yourself to unnecessary risks.